SpaceX has test-fired the "Raptor" rocket engine that's slated for use in their 2024 Mars mission as reported by Engadget.
The Raptor rocket engine is planned to be three times more powerful than SpaceX's Falcon 9 and roughly equivalent to the three engines on the Space Shuttle. Nine of these methane-fueled motors will be used to get a Mars mission off the ground. This configuration will make it the most powerful rocket in history.
The Raptor engine was shipped to SpaceX's test site in Macgregor, Texas in early August. Elon Musk initially suggested that it would produce over 500,000 lbs. of thrust; these estimates were raised to 680,000 lbs. of thrust expected for the production version. This would allow the engine to lift the Mars Colonial Transporter with 100 tons of cargo into orbit and send it on its way for the company's 2024 manned Mars mission.
SpaceX has suffered a number of disasters with its vehicles over the last few years. While they have had many successes landing their Falcon 9 Rocket on a drone ship they have also dealt with catastrophic failures. Most recently, a Falcon 9 rocket exploded on the launch pad at the beginning of September. SpaceX's investigations determined that the cause of the explosion was a "large breach" in the cryogenic helium system which is part of the rocket's second stage.
Elon Musk will be giving a speech tomorrow at the International Aeronautical Conference in Mexico. Titled Making Humans a Multiplanetary Species, it will be broadcast Tuesday, September 27 at 2:30PM Eastern Time and available for viewing online. He plans to unveil the overall plan for SpaceX's endeavor to colonize Mars as well as more specific details about the Mars Colonial Transporter vehicle.
What do you think of SpaceX as a company? Do you think they'll be able to meet their goal of flying a planned Mar mission in 2024? Let us know in the comments below!